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Network Vision/LTE - Swiftel Market (Sioux Falls/Sioux City/Brookings)


saxman
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Being a Sprint customer in South Dakota is very frustrating. I could go on and on about it, but I'll try and keep this to the point. From my understanding, Sprint towers are controlled and operated by a local utility company called Swiftel based out of Brookings, SD. Sprint coverage (actual Sprint towers) are very limited in eastern SD. They are along I-29 from the Iowa border to Watertown, SD. Sioux Falls has a population of over 150,000 and it has a VERY small Wimax area near downtown. Up until just a couple months ago the actual "Sprint Stores" in my area (which are not corporate Sprint stores even though they look like they would be), were finally allowed to sell 4g phones. The decision not to allow sales of 4g phones, whether it be Sprint or Swiftel, totally baffles me. When you have Att and Verizon selling top of the line phones, how do they think they can compete when they are selling 5 year old technology phones?

 

Ok, enough with the rant. Will South Dakota get any LTE love? Or will it continue to operate as it did 15 years ago? It's like Swiftel doesn't want to invest any money in improvements. I have a hard time believing their numbers are anything to be proud of. If they put a little effort in the network, or pushed Sprint to do so (not sure who is more at fault here), they could really be doing well against Verizon and ATT. Almost everyone I know around here has Verizon with a fair number of ATT customers. I almost NEVER see a person with Sprint. Sprint does have an awesome plan in their unlimited plan. It includes a lot for good price compared to the other two. The problem is, when everyone is pushing smartphones and their capabilities and Sprint is trying to differentiate themselves by promoting unlimited data for your incredibly capable smartphone, there becomes no value in Sprints plan when you can't do half the things a smartphone is meant to do.

 

During peak usage (evenings) I often am lucky to get faster than dial up speeds. I'm talking 50-100 kbps. It's not possible to use Youtube, Pandora has trouble streaming, and anything that involves media is basically useless. What is frustrating is I can get 1 - 1.5 mbps early morning or late night. This makes it quite obvious it's a capacity issue. When it's a daily occurrence and it happens during the same time windows, it's clear the towers aren't keeping up as usage increases during peak times.

 

Is there any hope for this area of the country? Verizon already has LTE here and I'm guessing ATT will not be far behind. As usual, Sprint is about 5-10 years behind the competition.

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Being a Sprint customer in South Dakota is very frustrating. I could go on and on about it, but I'll try and keep this to the point. From my understanding, Sprint towers are controlled and operated by a local utility company called Swiftel based out of Brookings, SD. Sprint coverage (actual Sprint towers) are very limited in eastern SD. They are along I-29 from the Iowa border to Watertown, SD. Sioux Falls has a population of over 150,000 and it has a VERY small Wimax area near downtown. Up until just a couple months ago the actual "Sprint Stores" in my area (which are not corporate Sprint stores even though they look like they would be), were finally allowed to sell 4g phones. The decision not to allow sales of 4g phones, whether it be Sprint or Swiftel, totally baffles me. When you have Att and Verizon selling top of the line phones, how do they think they can compete when they are selling 5 year old technology phones?

 

Ok, enough with the rant. Will South Dakota get any LTE love? Or will it continue to operate as it did 15 years ago? It's like Swiftel doesn't want to invest any money in improvements. I have a hard time believing their numbers are anything to be proud of. If they put a little effort in the network, or pushed Sprint to do so (not sure who is more at fault here), they could really be doing well against Verizon and ATT. Almost everyone I know around here has Verizon with a fair number of ATT customers. I almost NEVER see a person with Sprint. Sprint does have an awesome plan in their unlimited plan. It includes a lot for good price compared to the other two. The problem is, when everyone is pushing smartphones and their capabilities and Sprint is trying to differentiate themselves by promoting unlimited data for your incredibly capable smartphone, there becomes no value in Sprints plan when you can't do half the things a smartphone is meant to do.

 

During peak usage (evenings) I often am lucky to get faster than dial up speeds. I'm talking 50-100 kbps. It's not possible to use Youtube, Pandora has trouble streaming, and anything that involves media is basically useless. What is frustrating is I can get 1 - 1.5 mbps early morning or late night. This makes it quite obvious it's a capacity issue. When it's a daily occurrence and it happens during the same time windows, it's clear the towers aren't keeping up as usage increases during peak times.

 

Is there any hope for this area of the country? Verizon already has LTE here and I'm guessing ATT will not be far behind. As usual, Sprint is about 5-10 years behind the competition.

 

 

I sympathize with your position being in South Dakota. Swiftel (a Sprint regional affiliate) has not provided the type of service area with the newest technologies that customers in most others get to appreciate. Sprint bought out all but two of their affiliates because of issues like these. However, Sprint cannot buy Swiftel, since they are a public utility.

 

Unfortunately, Sprint only has two options with Swiftel...

  1. Work with them and try to convince them to come on board with Network Vision.
  2. Send them packing at the end of their contract.

Hopefully, Sprint will be able to get Swiftel on board with Network Vision upgrades. However, I am slightly less than optimistic that will happen. I don't think Swiftel is swimming in the money, being a quasi-government agency. Sprint's only other remaining affiliate, Shentel, has agreed to joining Network Vision and a complete LTE deployment over its entire coverage area. Swiftel has made no deal with Sprint to date (at least not announced publicly).

 

However, I completely disagree with your assessment that Sprint is 5-10 years behind the competition. Sprint was the first with a 4G network, that is hardly 5-10 years behind the competition. Also, Sprint is deploying its LTE network just slightly behind AT&T and in front of every other wireless carrier except Verizon.

 

Also, Sprint is taking its LTE coverage nationwide over its entire footprint. AT&T is not even doing that. So, even though South Dakota is definitely in a unique and bad situation at the moment, the circumstances that exist there are not nationwide. Have you ever contacted Swiftel to find out about their Network Vision plans, if any?

 

Robert

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Thanks for the knowledgeable response. It's sad you seem to know more than the local stores or sprint reps. What you've said pretty much sums up the bits and pieces I've gathered from searching the Internet. I was being a little sarcastic saying 5-10 years. I honestly don't see the benefit to Sprint, Swiftel, or the consumer in the current arrangement. It's obvious the consumer suffers. I can't believe Sprint totally has its hands tied. In this day of complicated contracts to protect a company Sprint should have some power in protecting their name. All this stagnation by Swiftel only tarnishes Sprint's name. It makes no sense to me whatsoever. Does it to you? Maybe I'm missing something. The only party benefitting in some way is Swiftel by not having to spend money. They must not want to grow and increase long-term profits by investing in the short term. Surely the brunt of costs could be covered by Sprint.

I did contact Swiftel regarding the issue. I complained but in a professional manner. I even complimented Sprint's plans on having a lot of value compared to the other major players. They didn't even have the decency to respond and say they don't know or can't comment. The no response just further proves to me they don't care. Sprint should do something for the sake of Sprint's own reputation.

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Thanks for the knowledgeable response. It's sad you seem to know more than the local stores or sprint reps. What you've said pretty much sums up the bits and pieces I've gathered from searching the Internet. I was being a little sarcastic saying 5-10 years. I honestly don't see the benefit to Sprint, Swiftel, or the consumer in the current arrangement. It's obvious the consumer suffers. I can't believe Sprint totally has its hands tied. In this day of complicated contracts to protect a company Sprint should have some power in protecting their name. All this stagnation by Swiftel only tarnishes Sprint's name. It makes no sense to me whatsoever. Does it to you? Maybe I'm missing something. The only party benefitting in some way is Swiftel by not having to spend money. They must not want to grow and increase long-term profits by investing in the short term. Surely the brunt of costs could be covered by Sprint.

I did contact Swiftel regarding the issue. I complained but in a professional manner. I even complimented Sprint's plans on having a lot of value compared to the other major players. They didn't even have the decency to respond and say they don't know or can't comment. The no response just further proves to me they don't care. Sprint should do something for the sake of Sprint's own reputation.

 

Most likely Sprint is tied until the end of their current contract. There was no Network Vision or LTE deployment plans when they signed their last agreement. Their current contract likely includes the types of services Swiftel has now. So they will not be in breach of the contract as it is now by not jumping on the NV/LTE bandwagon with Sprint.

 

However, Sprint will likely try to get Swiftel to agree to an amended contract now. That's what Shentel did. Shentel agreed to modify their contract before expiration because Shentel wants Network Vision and LTE.

 

If Swiftel is content letting the clock run out on their agreement and not upgrade to Network Vision and LTE, then Sprint's hands are tied. However, Sprint would then likely not extend Swiftel's agreement past its current expiration. But doing that will only result in Sprint customers losing native coverage in South Dakota. And Sprint will not likely come back in and build out their own network there for years. It's a catch 22. All the bargaining advantage really is on Swiftel's side, and they know it.

 

There's not an easy situation at all if Swiftel doesn't want to come on board with NV/LTE with Sprint.

 

Robert

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Like it or not, South Dakota is such small potatoes, VZW has taken such a lion's share of the minimal market, and Sprint has such bigger fish to fry elsewhere that Swiftel is barely a blip on Sprint's radar screen right now.

 

Now, I apologize for speaking in so many metaphors.

 

AJ

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Many times companies enter into arrangements that end up going sour thanks to the partner running out of money or not wanting to invest in something that they don't see much prospect of return on their investment. If, as you say, most people have Verizon, Swiftel may not want to invest millions in their network if there are not enough customers to return on that investment. It could take years to win customers over from Verizon.

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Also, keep in mind that Brookings Municipal Utilities d/b/a Swiftel became a Sprint affiliate in 1998-1999. At that time, the Cellular 850 MHz competitors in South Dakota were WWC (Western Wireless) and AirTouch. And both may have been AMPS only. So, Swiftel may have seen that as prime opportunity to bring Sprint's CDMA based PCS 1900 MHz service to South Dakota. VZW did not even exist yet, as the VZW merger did not occur until 1999-2000, so nobody knew that there would be a VZW nor an AT&T that would go on to become such anti competitive asshats and try to buy up or drive out of business all other wireless carriers.

 

AJ

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Also' date=' keep in mind that Brookings Municipal Utilities d/b/a Swiftel became a Sprint affiliate in 1998-1999. At that time, the Cellular 850 MHz competitors in South Dakota were WWC (Western Wireless) and AirTouch. And both may have been AMPS only. So, Swiftel may have seen that as prime opportunity to bring Sprint's CDMA based PCS 1900 MHz service to South Dakota. VZW did not even exist yet, as the VZW merger did not occur until 1999-2000, so nobody knew that there would be a VZW nor an AT&T that would go on to become such anti competitive asshats and try to buy up or drive out of business all other wireless carriers.

 

AJ[/quote']

 

Anti competitve Asshats?

 

I like that. It was a shame that Verizon got most of Alltel's spectrum. It gave them too much control in Nevada, except of course rural Central Nevada. Pahrump is double covered and the FCC didn't make them sell off Alltel's network in Pahrump.

 

By the way AJ, you wouldn't happen to have a map showing Alltel's spectrum ownings prior to the Verizon takeover, would you?

 

Sent from Joshs Evo Shift using Forum Runner

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I wish they could treat Sioux Falls as a separate location instead of the Swiftel market as a whole. I agree much of SD is vastly unpopulated, but Sioux Falls should be like any other decent sized city. I believe Rapid City and Pierre have REAL Sprint owned area and they are quite a bit smaller than Sioux Falls. I'd like to once here the inner discussions that go on at Swiftel. It'd be real interesting to know their reasoning for stifling progress for both them and their customers. The whole affiliate market thing sounds like it was a bad idea from the start. Between this and the Clearwire debacle, maybe Sprint will learn to avoid similar mistakes in the future.

 

The funny thing I didn't mention is one Sprint rep said they were totally confident they could fix my issue. They offered a free Airwave. Once I found out how they work and need a separate ISP to work, I thought that was laughable. Really, using someone else's high speed Internet to boost your own data speeds. They really don't see an issue with that? One of the only reasons I took the smartphone plunge was I got rid of home internet to cut costs. I guess I need a home ISP so Sprint can piggyback onto it to boost their slow data speeds. I'm sure Sprint would love it if the ISP's did the same to Sprint.

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I wish they could treat Sioux Falls as a separate location instead of the Swiftel market as a whole. I agree much of SD vastly unpopulated, but Sioux Falls should be like any other decent sized city. I believe Rapid City and Pierre have REAL Sprint owned area and they are quite a bit smaller than Sioux Falls. I'd like to once here the inner discussions that go on at Swiftel. It'd be real interesting to know there reasoning for stifling progress for both them and their customers. The whole affiliate market thing sounds like it was a bad idea from the start. Between this and the clearwire debacle, maybe Sprint will learn to avoid similar mistakes in the future.

 

The funny thing I didn't mention is one Sprint rep said they were totally confident they could fix my issue. They offered a free Airwaves. Once I found out how they work and need a separate ISP to work, I thought that was laughable. Really, using someone else's high speed Internet to boost your own data speeds. They really don't see an issue with that? One of the only reasons I took the smartphone plunge was I got rid of home internet to cut costs. I guess I need a home ISP so Sprint can piggyback onto it to boost their slow data speeds. I'm sure Sprint would love it if the ISP's did the same to Sprint.

 

Rapid City and Pierre are Sprint roaming areas. Once you get west of Sioux Falls, Sprint is roaming all the way until you get to Jackson, Wyoming near the Idaho border. Most likely the issues of Swiftel are financial related.

 

As for affiliates...it was a bad idea. That's why Sprint bought almost all of them out. Shentel is a good affiliate and didn't need to be bought out. Swiftel is public owned and can't be bought out. And Sprint definitely learned its lesson with Clearwire. That's why Sprint is deploying its own LTE nationwide on its own spectrum. They are only using Clearwire for additional capacity where needed in areas Sprint already has LTE coverage.

 

Also, it is not advisable to use any wireless carrier for your personal ISP. Especially AT&T and Verizon. If you are going to do something like that, then Sprint is often your best option. But given your circumstances in South Dakota, a home ISP is probably your best option. Because Sprint under performs, and AT&T/Verizon have data caps.

 

Robert

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One of the only reasons I took the smartphone plunge was I got rid of home internet to cut costs.

 

That is a big part of your problem. Mobile wireless broadband is not a replacement for wired (or fixed wireless) broadband. And, honestly, I look askance at people who try to cut costs by living on their mobile wireless broadband connections at home because those people just exacerbate the slow data speed problems that you are complaining about.

 

Femtocells and Wi-Fi offloading are becoming a fact of life in the wireless industry. On purely macro cellular networks, we simply do not have enough available spectrum, nor can we ever clear enough spectrum to keep up with the public's newfound (read: iPhone inspired) insatiable appetite for data. So, we (both wireless carriers and individual subs) are going to have to mix in smaller cells and Wi-Fi offloading among the macrocells in so called heterogeneous networks or "het nets" in order to keep up with demand.

 

My advice is to get your home broadband connection back, and embrace femtocells and Wi-Fi offloading. That is a big part of the solution. And, as the old saying goes, if you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.

 

AJ

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That is a big part of your problem. Mobile wireless broadband is not a replacement for wired (or fixed wireless) broadband. And' date=' honestly, I look askance at people who try to cut costs by living on their mobile wireless broadband connections at home because those people just exacerbate the slow data speed problems that you are complaining about.

 

Femtocells and Wi-Fi offloading are becoming a fact of life in the wireless industry. On purely macro cellular networks, we simply do not have enough available spectrum, nor can we ever clear enough spectrum to keep up with the public's newfound (read: iPhone inspired) insatiable appetite for data. So, we (both wireless carriers and individual subs) are going to have to mix in smaller cells and Wi-Fi offloading among the macrocells in so called heterogeneous networks or "het nets" in order to keep up with demand.

 

My advice is to get your home broadband connection back, and embrace femtocells and Wi-Fi offloading. That is a big part of the solution. And, as the old saying goes, if you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.

 

AJ[/quote']

 

I have an exemption to the rule since my local phone company and cable company refuse to offer high speed internet to my street, right?

 

Sent from Joshs Evo Shift using Forum Runner

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I remember that swiftel and sprint's disagreement that caused the 4g phone embargo was supposedly that swiftel expected sprint to foot the 4g cost for upgrade. Given that they pay sprint somewhat of a "rent" for customer care, etc, its easy to see why a cash strapped entity would act that way. There were rumblings in 2009 that swiftel had agreed to be sold to another company (not wireless) but that the deal fell through and they renewed with sprint through 2018. So, while its probably possible for a complete buyout to happen, I wouldnt expect them to be able to fire sprint and take up verizon. Oh well... id think sprints interest in helping the affiliates will be on a back burner until 2014..

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So there is an assumption that those who have smartphones must also have a home ISP. Really? Are you kidding me? My wife and I get by fine using just our phones. I'm not constantly downloading music or large files or streaming for hours at a time. I do like to be able to use Pandora or YouTube once and a while. I am a musician and they are great tools when the network isn't overloaded. Usually when I need to listen to something as an example I'm away from home and wifi is not available. If wifi is available of course I use it. It's faster and according to Sprint uses less battery. Why should I pay for Internet twice when my usage is mostly away from home?

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So there is an assumption that those who have smartphones must also have a home ISP. Really? Are you kidding me? My wife and I get by fine using just our phones. I'm not constantly downloading music or large files or streaming for hours at a time. I do like to be able to use Pandora or YouTube once and a while. I am a musician and they are great tools when the network isn't overloaded. Usually when I need to listen to something as an example I'm away from home and wifi is not available. If wifi is available of course I use it. It's faster and according to Sprint uses less battery. Why should I pay for Internet twice when my usage is mostly away from home?

 

When you say something like this

One of the only reasons I took the smartphone plunge was I got rid of home internet to cut costs.

It makes people think that you are tethering your computer use through your phone, thereby raising your internet use and causing even more strain on the network making everyone else around you slow down. If you are using just your cell phone to internet browse, e-mail, stream, etc, that is normal usage and yes, you are correct, you shouldn't need an ISP. Also, if you are paying for the capability to tether your computer to your phone and use internet connectivity and fall within all the guidelines imposed with the tethering agreement, again you are correct, you don't need an ISP.

 

Many people, including myself, have wifi at home and use that to connect the smartphone when we are at home. I get 30mbps from my home internet, so my smartphone flies through any task while I am connected to wifi.

There is no way I could cut my internet service, as I am dependant on it, not for cell phone use, but for all the other gadgets I have around the house that use internet. Connecting my cell phone to it is just a plus for me, and it helps out those around me because my usage is no longer on the network.

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Thanks for the knowledgeable response. It's sad you seem to know more than the local stores or sprint reps.

 

I get so tired of hearing this. Why would you expect some slightly-above-minimum-wage person whose entry-level job is to sell or troubleshoot phones to have any clue what Sprint's contracts are or when technology will be deployed. Ask at the corporate level for those types of questions.

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If your goal is ISP replacement, sprint isnt your best option. They also arent marketing themselves to be a sufficient ISP replacement. If a gsm provider has hspa+ deployed there, that will likely be your most cost effective way to avoid an ISP monthly bill with wireless, even if its a few extra bucks over sprint. The premiums paid on sprints competitors, if your usage is indeed low, is still cheaper than an ISP bill. There may also be low speed broadband available for less tha $20 a month, depending on your location

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I have an exemption to the rule since my local phone company and cable company refuse to offer high speed internet to my street, right?

 

I'm in the same boat Josh, my phone company and the local cable company will NOT bring high speed to us and the many homes around us. I have requested cable once or twice a year since I moved here four years ago and, obviously, they still say the same thing that there aren't enough houses per mile. My house is about 1.5 miles from where cable is today and there are about 40 homes in that distance but Time Warner won't drop lines without 90 homes per mile.

 

CenturyLink has blanketed the entire neighboring county to ours according to my neighbor who works for them because they had the lowest broadband penetration rates in the state. Since the economy has slowed, so has CenturyLink's expansion to more rural areas.

 

Sprint Mobile BroadBand is my only viable solution at this point, since Verizon and AT&T don't have unlimited plans. I work from home for a large computer company and use a lot of data every month. It's not fast enough to stream movies or music (we tried Netflix briefly but it just wouldn't work), but for most of what I do from home it's acceptable. Later in the day and parts of the evening it's much slower which is when others are getting home from work.

 

The 4G LTE and capacity upgrades can't come soon enough for people like me who have no other viable options.

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I'm in the same boat Josh, my phone company and the local cable company will NOT bring high speed to us and the many homes around us. I have requested cable once or twice a year since I moved here four years ago and, obviously, they still say the same thing that there aren't enough houses per mile. My house is about 1.5 miles from where cable is today and there are about 40 homes in that distance but Time Warner won't drop lines without 90 homes per mile.

 

CenturyLink has blanketed the entire neighboring county to ours according to my neighbor who works for them because they had the lowest broadband penetration rates in the state. Since the economy has slowed, so has CenturyLink's expansion to more rural areas.

 

Sprint Mobile BroadBand is my only viable solution at this point, since Verizon and AT&T don't have unlimited plans. I work from home for a large computer company and use a lot of data every month. It's not fast enough to stream movies or music (we tried Netflix briefly but it just wouldn't work), but for most of what I do from home it's acceptable. Later in the day and parts of the evening it's much slower which is when others are getting home from work.

 

The 4G LTE and capacity upgrades can't come soon enough for people like me who have no other viable options.

 

I understand your desire for LTE. I wish they could hurry up too.

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There were rumblings in 2009 that swiftel had agreed to be sold to another company (not wireless)...


Yes, that is partly correct. In fact, just a few weeks ago, Robert and I were discussing Swiftel's canceled buyout. The buyer was Crossroads Wireless, which was a Sprint Rural Alliance partner.

For the Swiftel buyout applications, start with the 6/30/2008 Assignment of Authorization. Click on each application link, then click on the Admin tab within that application. Toward the middle of each application Admin page, you will find the attached document(s). Start here:

http://wireless2.fcc.gov/UlsApp/UlsSearch/allApplications.jsp?licKey=193016

Crossroads was to be focused on rural highway coverage (hence, the name), so Swiftel and its I-29 centered footprint would have been a natural fit for Crossroads. Sprint partitioned and disaggregated some 10 MHz blocks of PCS spectrum to Crossroads for the rural highway buildout.

For the partitioned and disaggregated spectrum, see Attachment 1 from this application:

http://wireless2.fcc.gov/UlsApp/ApplicationSearch/applAdmin.jsp?applID=4627816

However, Crossroads ran into severe financial difficulties and filed for bankruptcy protection. So, the Swiftel acquisition was aborted and the rural highway buildout never happened. To add insult to injury, Crossroads, as Debtor-in-Possession, even liquidated the spectrum that Sprint had partitioned and disaggregated to it, and sold that spectrum to VZW, AT&T, et al.

See Restated Order Approving Spectrum Sales here:

http://wireless2.fcc.gov/UlsApp/ApplicationSearch/applAdmin.jsp?applID=5087986

AJ
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Maybe Swiftel will wake up and Sioux Falls and some of the other larger cities will be upgraded to LTE.

 

You could also receive Clearwire LTE when that is rolled out. That will be down the road a bit, but Clearwire has buildout requirements, and they have to cover a certain percentage of the population with their networks or they stand to lose pieces of their nationwide Spectrum. Since you currently have WiMax in town, albeit 1 tower, there is a chance that Clearwire will expand coverage there. Then you just need a phone that can access LTE on Clearwire's frequency.

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If the WiMax protection site is any where near your home and you can get signal outside, you could buy a WiMax amplifier and use that as an internet connection.

 

Oh, well now what have we here?

 

sdnv.png

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